‘Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation?’
Why are recruiters asking this?
It’s okay to fail. It happens to everyone, and having “failure” experiences are an important and necessary part of learning.
When recruiters ask “failure” questions it can be surprising or uncomfortable. When selecting a story where things didn’t go as well as you wanted, avoid sharing really huge mistakes, and also avoid unrealistically simple answers. No one is perfect, and if you say you are, it’s not believable.
If an interviewer asks you about your failures or mistakes, pick a real situation that you can speak honestly about. It doesn’t need to be the worst mistake of your career, it’s probably best to pick a story you feel somewhat comfortable to share.
Start by defining what you consider failure to be (which varies from person to person) which can help you frame the answer as you like. Explain what you learned and how you try to avoid these kinds of issues in the future.
Checklist for a great answer
Prepare a story in advance (focusing on negative traits can be uncomfortable and takes practice)
Highlight your role in the failure even if it was a team or group result – the story is about you
Don’t give too many details or try to convince the interviewer
Other similar questions
Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation?
What was your biggest mistake?
Tell me about a major setback you’ve had. How did you deal with it?
We all make mistakes we wish we could take back. Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
Give me an example of a time when you did not meet a client’s expectation. What happened, and how did you attempt to rectify the situation?
How do I get better at these questions?
PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
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